Christianity 201

May 26, 2012

Eugene Peterson Quotations

Pastor, author, academic lecturer, the Message translator, pastor to pastors; all those words summarize Eugene Peterson. Because he is quoted so often, instead of going to quote sites this time around, I simply searched out the phrase, “Eugene Peterson writes;” which rewarded me with more than enough material for us to consider today, though sadly, about half lacked full attribution, so today we’re just going to enjoy the quotes themselves apart from their sources. There’s actually more than a week’s worth of meditation here. Again, look for that one quotation which resonates especially.


“Christian faith is not neurotic dependency but childlike trust. We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies.”


“It’s possible to claim the name Christian without being Christian at all – that is, without following Christ. Jesus is far more than a theological icon to believe in; he is a person to follow. He is not just the truth; he is the way. But those who follow Jesus are constantly in danger of getting lost, for we live in a culture that stands in huge contrast to Jesus…Jesus shows us how to live this gospel-based life, but he doesn’t give us a how-to manual. Rather, the local congregation, the company of praying men and women, is the primary place where we discover the way of Jesus.”


“Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”


“In the call to worship we hear God’s first word to us; in the benediction we hear God’s last word to us; in the Scripture lessons we hear God speaking to our fathers; in the sermon we hear that word re-expressed to us; in the hymns, which are all to a greater or lesser extent paraphrases of Scripture, the Word of God makes our prayers articulate.”


“The Bible is not a script for a funeral service, but it is the record of God always bringing life where we expected to find death. Everywhere it is the story of resurrection.”


“The mature Christian life involves a congruence of grace and work.”


“Our days are busy with little leisure for frills. We have work to do, interests to pursue, books to read, letters to write, the telephone to answer, errands to run, children to raise, investments to tend to, the lawn to mow, food to prepare and serve, the garbage to take out. We don’t need God’s help or counsel in doing any of these things. God is necessary for the big things, most obviously creation and salvation. But for the rest we can, for the most part, take care of ourselves. That usually adds up to a workable life, at least when accompanied by a decent job and a good digestion. But—it is not the practice of resurrection; it is not growing up in Christ, it is not living in the company of the Trinity.”


“A sense of hurry in pastoral work disqualifies one for the work of conversation and prayer that develops relationships that meet personal needs. There are heavy demands put upon pastoral work, true; there is difficult work to be engaged in, yes. But the pastor must not be ‘busy.’… there must be a wide margin of leisure.”


“Intimacy [with God] does not preclude reverence. True intimacy does not eliminate a sacred awe.”


“Individualism is the growth-stunting, maturity-inhibiting habit of understanding growth as an isolated self-project. Individualism is self-ism with swagger. The individualist is the person who is convinced that he or she can serve God without dealing with God. This is the person who is sure that he or she can love neighbors without knowing their names. This is the person who assumes that ‘getting ahead’ involves leaving other people behind. This is the person who having gained competence in knowing God or people or world, uses that knowledge to take charge of God or people or world.”


“Sabbath is not primarily about us or how it benefits us; it’s about God and how he forms us. It’s not, in the first place, about what we do or don’t do; it’s about God completing and resting and blessing and sanctifying. These are all things we don’t know much about; they are beyond us but not beyond our recognition and participation.”


““…Forgiveness is the last word.  I take no interest in eliminating the tension between justice and forgiveness by taking justice off the table.  …  But I am interested in reintroducing the priority of this Jesus-prayed forgiveness into our lives.  In matters of sin and injustice and evil, the last prayer of Jesus  (“forgive them, they know not what they do”)  is not for justice but for forgiveness. …  Assuming that the criminal crucified next to Jesus was receiving a just death sentence (he said as much himself), the sentence was not revoked in Jesus’ prayer.  The criminal died for his crime.  But forgiveness trumped justice.  It always does. “


“Theology is about God, and God is Spirit … we have accumulated a lot of experience in the Christian community of persons treating theology as a subject in which God is studied in the ways we are taught to study in our schools—acquiring information that we can use, or satisfying our curiosity, or obtaining qualifications for a job or profession. There are, in fact, a lot of people within and outside formal religious settings who talk and write a lot about spirituality, things of the spirit or the soul or “higher things,” but are not interested in God. There is a wonderful line in T. H. White’s novel of King Arthur (The Once and Future King), in which Guinevere in her old age becomes the abbess of a convent: ‘she was a wonderful theologian but she wasn’t interested in God.’ It happens.”


“Song and dance are the result of an excess energy. When we are normal we talk, when we are dying wewhisper, but when there is more in us than we containwe sing. When we are healthy we walk, whenwe are decrepit we shuffle, but when we are beyond ourselves with vitality we dance.”


“The resurrection of Jesus creates and makes available the reality in which we are formed as new creatures in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This is a foreign concept in our ego-centric, do-it-yourself, control freakish society. However, the Christian life is a Jesus-resurrection life, a life in us that is accomplished by the power of the resurrection, the Holy Spirit.”

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